For businesses in the northeast, snow and payroll taxes are inevitable. You know snow loads have to be monitored. You know snow must be removed. But perhaps you are not sure exactly what snow removal methods are best. So let’s answer the question, “What flat roof snow removal methods are there?”

Get it Off!

Your commercial property’s roof bears a mighty responsibility, protecting all of the rest of your business beneath it. This means you have to treat your commercial roof with TLC and maybe a little SLR (Snow Load Removal). 

Accumulating snow and ice can put a tremendous static load on your commercial roof. Even if you do not immediately detect any bowing or sagging of roof deck members, the snow and ice buildup can lead to a partial or total roof collapse. Such a catastrophe could destroy inventory, machinery, vehicles, or supplies. It could endanger employees and customers.  

For most businesses in the northeast, getting snow off low-slope and flat roofs is a wintertime necessity. For many companies, this falls to facilities crews, but not all commercial roofs are easily and safely cleared by in-house workers. 

Here and There

Your commercial roof is not completely uniform. Some areas may sustain greater damage than other spots from too much snow and ice. Even just a few inches of snow across the roof may block parapet scuppers, for example, causing ice dams to form. The next warm day does not provide relief from meltwater, but instead causes further ice buildup. 

Make sure your facilities crew and your local, helpful commercial roofer are aware of all parts of your roof before the details get covered in a blanket of white stuff. Perhaps there is a particular HVAC curb which is prone to leak and needs a bit of attention. Perhaps those recently resealed seams should get a second look.

Many times, the snow and ice by themselves do not cause many problems. Freeze and thaw cycles, though, can do real damage. Electrical and plumbing connections can be disrupted, internal drains can get blocked, and electro-mechanical equipment can short out. 

Do It Now

When should snow and ice be removed from your business’s roof? Generally, contracting with your local roofer for prompt snow removal is the best preventive maintenance you can perform for your roof during winter. The sooner the load is lightened, the better. 

Specific times to consider snow and ice removal from your company’s roof are:

  • Immediately after a substantial snowfall or heavy storm
  • Before an anticipated major snowstorm
  • When your helpful, local commercial roofer determines you have too much of a snow load on the roof
  • Before anticipated steep drops in temperature

Heave Ho

The tried-and-true flat roof snow removal methods for commercial roofs (low-slope or flat) still center on the weapon of choice, a blunt-edged shovel. Well, maybe not one shovel; perhaps a dozen blunt-edged shovels in the hands of trained workers. 

The blunt edge prevents tears in single-ply membranes or cuts into roofing felts. Still, a blunt edge shovel improperly used can damage the roof. Your on-site crew may not be the best choice for flat roof snow removal.

A commercial roofer’s careful crew, equipped with blunt-edged shovels, is still the best way to tackle snow and ice removal. Let’s compare it to some other methods:

  • Leaf blowers — Some property managers dispatch facilities crews to the rooftop with gasoline powered leaf blowers for light snow; however, if the snow is light enough to blow off, it probably is not a load problem
  • Melting snow and ice with an open flame — Melting the snow without getting down to an ice layer beneath is not helpful; it only hastens ice dam formation, while melting ice on the roof with a flame could lead to a fire
  • Heating cables — These are most effective in near-horizontal gutters or at the edges of metal roofing; for low-slope roofing, they have little effect and are prone to breakage from foot traffic

Call It

Your in-house facilities crew may not be able to keep up with the snow loads on your commercial roof. Your local roofer can. 

Consider locking in a snow removal plan so you never have to wonder when and how the heavy load will be lightened. Your roof and business could be saved from costly damage and extensive repairs with just one telephone call.

Once the snow season starts, your roofer can handle even the heaviest snowfall, with tons of snow to be shoveled off your roof. Your facilities crew is unlikely to have the training, equipment, and experience needed to do it safely and without damaging your roof.

Before the snow and ice sweep in and temperatures drop, please contact us today at Vanguard Roofing so we can arrange a program of professional inspection, commercial roof maintenance, and snow removal to help your business survive the coming winter.